China's first lunar rover separates from Chang'e-3 moon lander early Dec. 15, 2013. Screenshot taken from the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing. Credit: Xinhua/post processing by Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer

China’s Maiden Lunar Rover ‘Yutu’ Rolls 6 Wheels onto the Moon – Photo and Video Gallery

Article Updated: 23 Dec , 2015
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China’s first lunar rover separates from Chang’e-3 moon lander early Dec. 15, 2013. Screenshot taken from the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing. Credit: Xinhua/post processing by Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer
Updated- See below Photo Gallery of Yutu’s descent to lunar surface on Dec. 15, 2013[/caption]

China’s first ever lunar rover rolled majestically onto the Moon’s soil on Sunday, Dec. 15, barely seven hours after the Chang’e-3 mothership touched down atop the lava filled plains of the Bay of Rainbows.

Check out the gallery of stunning photos and videos herein from China’s newest space spectacular atop stark lunar terrain.

The six wheeled ‘Yutu’, or Jade Rabbit, rover drove straight off a pair of ramps at 4:35 a.m. Beijing local time and sped right into the history books as it left a noticeably deep pair of tire tracks behind in the loose lunar dirt.

China's first lunar rover separates from Chang'e-3 moon lander early Dec. 15, 2013. Screenshot taken from the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing. Credit: CCTV

China’s first lunar rover separates from Chang’e-3 moon lander early Dec. 15, 2013. Screenshot taken from the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing. Credit: CCTV

The stunning feat was broadcast on China’s state run CCTV using images transmitted to Earth from cameras mounted on the Chang’e-3 lander and aimed directly at the rear of the departing moon buggy.

Watch this YouTube video from CCTV showing the separation of ‘Yutu’ from the lander:

The scene was reminiscent of NASA’s Mars Sojourner rover driving of the Mars Pathfinder lander back in 1997.

Chinese space engineers based at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) carefully extended a pair of ramps out from the lander in a complex process, drove Yutu onto the ramps and then gently lowered them onto the moon’s soil.

China’s Change’-3 mission had just safely soft landed on the Moon hours only earlier on Saturday, Dec. 14 at 9:11 p.m. Beijing time, 8:11 EST at the Sinus Iridum region, or Bay of Rainbows.

China thus became only the 3rd country in the world to successfully land a spacecraft on Earth’s nearest neighbor after the United States and the Soviet Union.

A video grab shows China's first moon rover, Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, separating from Chang'e-3 moon lander early Dec. 15, 2013. The six-wheeled rover separated from the lander early on Sunday, several hours after the Chang'e-3 probe soft-landed on the lunar surface.  Credit: Xinhua

A video grab shows China’s first moon rover, Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, separating from Chang’e-3 moon lander early Dec. 15, 2013. The six-wheeled rover separated from the lander early on Sunday, several hours after the Chang’e-3 probe soft-landed on the lunar surface. Credit: Xinhua

It’s been nearly four decades since the prior lunar landing was accomplished by the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 sample return spacecraft.

Read my detailed account of the Chang’e-3 landing on Dec. 14 – here.

1st post landing image transmitted from the Moon’s surface by China’s Chang’e-3 lunar lander on Dec. 14, 2013. Credit: CCTV/post processing by Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer

1st post landing image transmitted from the Moon’s surface by China’s Chang’e-3 lunar lander on Dec. 14, 2013. Credit: CCTV/post processing by Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer

Watch this YouTube video compilation of CCTV’s Dec. 14 landing coverage:

Over 4600 images have already been transmitted by Chang’e-3 in less than a day on the Moon.

Tomorrow, the 120 kg Yutu rover will begin driving in a circle around the 1200 kg lander.

And the pair of lunar explorers will snap eagerly awaited portraits of one another!

The rover and lander are equipped with 8 science instruments multiple cameras, spectrometers, an optical telescope, ground penetrating radar and other sensors to investigate the lunar surface and composition.

The radar instrument installed at the bottom of the rover can penetrate 100 meters deep below the surface to study the Moon’s structure and composition in unprecedented detail, according to Ouyang Ziyuan, senior advisor of China’s lunar probe project, in an interview on CCTV.

China’s Chang’e-3 probe joins NASA’s newly arrived LADEE lunar probe which entered lunar orbit on Oct. 6 following a spectacular night time blastoff from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Chang’e-3, LADEE, MAVEN, MOM, Mars rover and more news.

Ken Kremer

Yutu moves towards drive off ramp still atop the Chang’e-3 lander, shown in this screen shot from early Dec. 15, 2013.  Credit: CCTV

Yutu moves towards drive off ramp still atop the Chang’e-3 lander, shown in this screen shot from early Dec. 15, 2013. Credit: CCTV

Yutu atop the transfer ramp to lunar surface. Credit: CCTV

Yutu atop the transfer ramp to lunar surface. Credit: CCTV

Yutu descends down the transfer ramp to lunar surface. Credit: CCTV

Yutu descends down the transfer ramp to lunar surface. Credit: CCTV

Image shows the trajectory of the lunar probe Chang'e-3 approaching the landing site  on Dec. 14.

Image shows the trajectory of the lunar probe Chang’e-3 approaching the landing site on Dec. 14.

China's first lunar rover separates from Chang'e-3 moon lander early Dec. 15, 2013. Screenshot taken from the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing. Credit: Xinhua

China’s first lunar rover separates from Chang’e-3 moon lander early Dec. 15, 2013. Screenshot taken from the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing. Credit: Xinhua

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44 Responses

  1. Hzzz says:

    God job!

  2. Layne says:

    Yes, congrats China, you got a rover to the moon in 2013…United States has 3 on Mars and had humans on the moon before 1970…good job indeed.

    • Dampe says:

      So tell me, what have you personally contributed to space exploration? Bet you cant even tell your arse from Uranus.

      • William Sparrow says:

        What do Layne’s personal accomplishments have to do with China’s space program? He’s simply pointing out that this isn’t a groundbreaking achievement, although China should be congratulated on their foray into becoming a space faring nation. Let’s just keep a bit of perspective. If China puts taikonauts on Mars, I’ll be impressed.

    • UFOsMOTHER says:

      Layne, your a sour puss, wake up and smell the roses

    • 2eurocents says:

      And now Russians ferry American astronauts to the ISS. How the times have changed, eh.

  3. fabuchachi says:

    Cool, I wish it had landed near the Apollo site.

    • Aqua4U says:

      I’d just as soon leave the Apollo sites alone for the time being… they should become world heritage sites and protected for future generations.

  4. Grimbold says:

    Congratulations China on this excellent achievement!

  5. Aqua4U says:

    Thank you China (Beijing Aerospace Control Center) for your openness and sharing this fantastic voyage with the world! Congratulations! ????? (Zài zh?ngguó zhùhè) We hope your mission goes well and you continue to share the science and excitement we all expect and feel! WOW!

    • Brian says:

      Thanks for sharing your success with us. I hope to be able to follow China’s successes in space exploration for years to come.

  6. zkank says:

    United States?
    Hello? United States?!

    Wake up!
    Get back up there!

    • magic3499 says:

      Will never happen, this country has been turned over to anti-science, blood sucking thieves* who think the national treasury is their personal checking account to be spent on wars of choice and oil production. If you want space exploration then discover a Spindletop under Olympus Mons.
      *(that’s not a shot at the President, but US politicians in general)

    • William Sparrow says:

      I’d much rather spend the ever decreasing U. S. investment in space exploration on unmanned rover or probe programs to Titan, Europa and Enceladus. In the unlikely event NASA’s budget ever sees an increase again, then I’m in favor of returning to the Moon. With current investment levels, I fear that manned programs will be the province of China. What a shame.

  7. Brenda Jean Louise says:

    Hopefully, China will become a valuable partner in the international space exploration program. It will take a world effort to create a permanent space station on the moon on which we can build a space port to visit the solar system.

  8. UFOsMOTHER says:

    Fantastic ,a Giant Leap For China, well done, 10 points out of 10, thank you China for these great pictures and continued success………..

    • dan_2000 says:

      Those giant leaps will be measured in metres, not that obsolete crap used by Americans. No wonder the US keeps sinking into the abyss.

  9. Freehawk says:

    “She says ‘it’s a beautiful moon’
    I say ‘not if you’ve been there.’ ”
    – The Killer Whales 1983

    Good job China.

  10. newSteveZodiac says:

    A giant leap for botkind. Now let’s get a telescope up there.

  11. Brian says:

    I am so glad to hear of China’s successful Moon landing. I hope that it is just the beginning of a long and successful space program.

  12. Olaf2 says:

    The interesting thing is here too you see no blast crater.

    • Aqua4U says:

      The video states that the lander intentionally turned off it’s engine during the last part of the descent to keep dust from interfering with ops. Low Lunar gravity means less acceleration, which they took advantage of… very clever!

  13. Aqua4U says:

    I awoke early this Sunday morning and first thing I did was to check if there were any new images from the Chang-e 3 lunar rover! Excited? Yessss….

    Similar, in an off-world way, to the MER rover Spirit, Chang-e 3 appears to have landed next to an interesting crater – instead of IN one. Never-the-less… here’s hoping they decide to ‘poke around’ a bit in and around that crater? Some interesting ejecta?

  14. David Duvall says:

    The data from the ground penetrating radar should be quite interesting.

    • Shuami says:

      Cool! Looks like the rover made a 180 deg turn (see the tracks on the ground) and showed the side with the Chinese flag to the lander.

  15. gjsteed says:

    strange isn’t it that nasa just had to have LADEE up there before the Chinese got there…maybe just to keep an extra special eye on the Chinese and what their really up to !!! mmmmm just surmising..
    anyhow well done china !!

  16. Gozlemci says:

    Congratulations YUTU scientists and China on this excellent achievement,

    and, sharing these mission data with the open world…!

  17. Erik Landerholm says:

    Tell me they landed close enough to our old moon stuff so they can take pictures and stop all the ‘we never went to the moon’, idiots!

  18. Victor G. D. de Moraes says:

    Good job. I’m rooting for to walk many kilometers. And whereas, therefore, is do the research, so noble that you want. It is showing that China also has its interest, which can, and, like the U.S., share your findings with humanity. Beautiful images and a show of engineering. I have no doubt that the exploration of humanity through space, the future holds for China and the Chinese, is so essential to success. Congratulations from Brazil!

  19. Bicycle Pete says:

    50 years ago, it was the USA leading the way to the moon, and American moms everywhere would admonish their children to clean their plates by reminding them of the “starving kids in China.” I wonder if 21st century Chinese parents use the same strategy on their kids about “starving kids in America?”

  20. Moonracer says:

    Congratulations China!!!! Where do I click the LIKE button?

  21. Jerome Brown says:

    where is the light coming from?

  22. Jerome Brown says:

    So where are the borders between USA territory, and Chinese territory?

  23. supermagneticman says:

    not one single reference to Nazi nasa faux space missions lolol see what stacked preconditioned repetitive suggestive subliminal messages do to you LOLOL the good folks at nasa have you brilliant idiots hypnotized LOL

Comments are closed.